Saul's blame-shifting tactics are typical of abusers When we consider the theme of non-apologies in the Bible, Saul's blame-shifting tactics stand out. But one of the amazing things we see in his story is the difference between him and his son, Jonathan. Jonathan is...
No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.
Jesus talked about the difference between good and bad people with directness and clarity we don’t often hear repeated. He certainly never claimed we could be perfect. He died, willingly, knowing that was the depth of our need for God’s help. But at the same time, Jesus was very clear about standards of behaviour that we could follow, despite our imperfect ethics. He continually reinforced how critical it was for us to follow those standards, for the sake of others.
Jesus made it abundantly clear that good shepherds cherish their sheep, while wolves are intent on doing harm. And there is a sense in which we are all called to be shepherds.
We all have a responsibility to care for the humans around us, and those responsibilities are reflected in our daily communication and interactions as well as in larger ways. Even children can learn to be increasingly kind and respectful of others.
Today we start a series looking at Eli, and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
When we read 1 and 2 Samuel, and look for what it has to say to us about abuse, we are flooded with stories and examples. This makes sense because what we now categorise broadly as abuse is a grouping of different harmful or toxic behaviours: different sins.
How can I be a friend to someone in need? The psalmist wrote:
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
One of the most difficult challenges for a victim of abuse is to be believed. Even by their friends. Abusers play on it and often use tactics to perpetrate further abuse through other people. These third parties are colloquially known as “flying monkeys”, reminiscent of the servants of the Wicked Witch of the West. Some might be only too glad to join in on hurting someone, but many will be innocent and unaware of the way they are being used.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Yahweh.
It is so easy to rush through a psalm without imagining the tone of voice. Even the phrase, “tearful prayers”, might significantly miss the depth of this person’s distress.
Again, out of the many names for God, the writer of Psalm 130 has chosen the name God suggested to Moses – when Moses was struggling to accept the task of bringing hope to a group of people who had been trapped in slavery. Trapped, for generations. These were people who suffered ongoing systemic, physical, financial, reproductive, and emotional abuse. Probably more.
We are looking at Psalm 123 as part of our series on the Songs of Ascents.
Abuse is torture. It’s difficult to go into that without raising triggers for people. But in the many different forms of abuse: all are dehumanising. Among the dozens of abusive behaviours a perpetrator is likely to be practised at are many that seek to disrupt a victim’s capacity to know and see clearly.